Custom reconciles us to everything.
Most of the quotations in this chapter are selected and condensed from the last 30 years of the English "Baconiana,"
the Journal of the Francis Bacon Society. The members have recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of its
founding. My thanks to them and to their former Chairman, the late Noel Fermor, and to their new Chairman,
Thomas "Bokey" Bokenham, for granting to me the right to reprint, under the copyright of that Journal, the
following quotations in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "As long as the question is of talent and mental power, the world of men has not his
equal to show... The Egyptian verdict of the Shakespeare societies comes to mind that he was a jovial actor and
manager. I cannot marry this fact to his verse" [@ 420].
John Greenleaf Whittier said, "Whether Bacon wrote the wonderful plays or not, I am quite sure the man Shakspere
neither did nor could."
James M. Barrie put it more whimsically: "I know not, sir, whether Bacon wrote the works of Shakespeare, but if he
did not it seems to me that he missed the opportunity of his lifetime."
Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, "Ask your own hearts, ask your own common sense, to conceive the possibility of
the author of the Plays being the anomalous, the wild, the irregular genius of our daily criticism. What! are we to
have miracles in sport? Does God choose idiots by whom to convey divine truths to man?"
The baptismal register describes him as Shakspere; the marriage bond as Shagspere; the burial record as Shakspere;
his father was generally given as Shaxper; an ex-master of the grammar school wrote of him as Shaxbere; his
fellow-townsman Quiney as Shackspere; and his "fellow-countryman" Hurley as Shaxper. It will be noted that in
these several forms, the pronunciation of the first syllable is Shax, and not Shake as in the form used in the Plays.
This varied spelling of the one name indicates that, the supposed author being unable to write or spell his name,
the several scribes involved were dependent on their own interpretation of the pronunciation as they heard it.
It has been argued that there is no significance in this varied spelling, because the spelling of names and even
ordinary words was not then fixed. If that be so, then it must be of considerable significance that throughout
forty-two separate publications of the Shakespeare Works made over a period of eighteen years up to Will
Shakspere's death, only one form of name was used consistently, and that one a new one--Shakespeare [@].
Alfred Dodd shows that none of the editors and commentators, or biographers of Shakespeare from 1733, Lewis,
Theobald, Dr. Warburton, Dr. Farmer, Edward Capell, Thomas Tyrwhitt, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Messrs. Bell,
Etherington, Masson, Reed, Colman or Richardson so much as refer to the 1609 Quarto and many of them do not
mention the Sonnets at all... [@].
...Ben Jonson's opinion of Bacon's quality as a talker: "His language (when he could spare a jest) was nobly
censorious. No man ever spake more neatly, more pressly, more weightily; or suffered less emptiness, less
idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his speech but consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not
cough or look aside from him without loss. He commanded where he spoke and had his judges angry and pleased
at his devotion. No man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man that heard him was, lest he
should make an end [@].
The abundance of legal terms displayed almost ostentatiously in the plays and sonnets has long attracted notice. It
is not only the quantity, but the quality of these instances which is striking. Ben Jonson uses legal jargon in his own
plays, but he uses it in buffoonery and satire. The author of Shakespeare, in addition to satire, often displays a legal
profundity which has been noticed by many eminent lawyers - among them Lord Chief Justice Campbell, who
wrote as follows: "To Shakespeare's law, lavishly as he propounds it, there neither be demurrer, nor bill of
exceptions, nor writ of error" [@].
As a young man Bacon was upbraided by his mother, Lady Anne, for "mumming and masking and sinfully
revelling" (Lambeth MSS 650, 222). He was the accepted Master of Ceremonies at the Gray's Inn revels. He was the
author or contriver of the following masques and devices; in 1589, The Misfortunes of Arthur , in 1592 A
Conference of Pleasure , in 1594 The Masque of the Order of the Helmet , in 1595 The Philautia Device and The
Device of the Indian Prince , in 1612 The Marriage of the Rhine and the Thames , and in 1613 The Masque of
Floweres ... In his essays Of Masques and Triumphs , Bacon reveals his interest in acting, mime, alterations of
scenes, coloured and varied lights, etc. In The Advancement of Learning (De Augmentis VII, 4) he commends
playacting as a useful form of personal discipline.
In his younger days at Gray's Inn Francis Bacon was the moving spirit of the "Order of the Helmet," an invisible
Knighthood dedicated to Pallas Athene--the Shaker-of-the-Spear. In the Gesta Grayorum this Order is said to be
"safely guarded by the Helmet of the great Goddess Pallas," and one of its Articles [most of which were adopted in
a spirit of satire] is as follows:
"Item, Every Knight of this Order shall endeavour to add Conference and Experience by Reading; and therefore
shall not only read and peruse Guiza , the French Academy , Galiatto the Courtier, Plutarch , the Arcadia , and the
Neoterical Writers from time to time; but also frequent the Theatre, and such like places of Experience and resort to
the better sort of Ordinaries for Conference." (From Gesta Grayorum , London 1688.)
That Francis Bacon was a restless, tireless imaginative genius is a well-known fact. Aubrey tells us that he was "a
good poet but concealed ." Sir Tobie Matthew writes, "The most prodigious wit that I ever knew, of my nation and
this side the sea, is of your lordship's name, though he be known by another." In a letter to Sir John Davies, Bacon
ends by beseeching him to "be good to concealed poets ." In his draft will, Bacon bequeaths his name and memory
to foreign nations and to his own countrymen "after some time be passed over."
About the year 1620 Ben Jonson became one of Bacon's "good pens." In Discoveries (1641) he gives Bacon the
highest praise, and describes his writings in these peculiar words ... "He who hath filled up all numbers and
performed that in our tongue which may be compared or preferred to insolent Greece and haughty Rome ... so that
he may be named as the mark and acme of our language.
Bacon is here compared to Homer and Virgil in the same words that Jonson used about the author of the
Shakespeare Folio in 1623... "Leave thee alone for the comparison/Of all that insolent Greece and haughty Rome
/Sent forth... "
Let it not trouble us that the Bard may have been one of England's greatest lawyers. Is there not (as O'Connor
pointed out) a vast difference in style between "A lawyer's farewell to his Muse" and the same Sir William
Blackstone's Commentaries ? Or between Coleridge's Aids to Reflection and the unearthly "Kubla Khan"? Can the
prose of Shelley ever rise to the wild loveliness of "The Ode to the West Wind"? [@].
It is hard to find in these days  of noblemen or gentlemen any good mathematician, or excellent musician, or
notable philosopher, or else a cunning poet. I know very many notable gentlemen in the Court that have written
commendably and suppressed it again, or suffered it to be published without their own names to it, as if it were a
discredit for a gentleman to seem learned, and to show himself amorous of any good art. The scorn and ordinary
disgrace offered unto poets in these days is cause why few gentlemen do delight in the art [@].
On Bacon's 60th birthday, Ben Jonson wrote an epigram for him which begins:
Haile happie Genius of this antient pile
How comes it all things so about thee smile:
The fire, the wine, the men! and in the midst,
Thou stand'st as if some Mysterie thou did'st! [@].
Bacon...was the prime mover--"most noble factor"--of the Virginia Company [Chesapeake Bay and Roanoke Island]
from the beginning, and is acknowledged as such by William Strachey, the first Secretary of the Colony, in his
History of Travaile into Virginia Britannia . The first Bermudan coinage, known as the hog-money, carried Bacon's
crest on one side and the picture of a ship under full sail, probably the Sea Venture , on the other. Three centuries
later his head appeared on the Newfoundland tercentenary stamp of 1910, with the caption "Guiding Spirit of the
Colonization Scheme." Thomas Jefferson carried Bacon's portrait with him everywhere.
The Virginia Company, with Bacon as its guiding star, included the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, the two
noble brothers to whom the first Shakespeare Folio is dedicated. William Strachey's narrative of Virginia is actually
dedicated to Bacon... [@].
Sixteenth century Italian cryptography reached its climax in the works of Giovanni Baptista della Porta whose
system, published in Naples in 1565, was efficient on all counts. His table consisted of thirteen key letters,
accompanied by an alphabet which changed in its lower line one place to the right for every pair of capitals:
A B a b c d e f g h i j k l m
n o p q r s t u v w x y z
C D a b c d e f g h i j k l m
z n o p q r s t u v w x y
E F a b c d e f g h i j k l m
y z n o p q r s t u v w x
(and so on)
Della Porta's system was quite simple. Supposing that we wanted to encipher the letter e by using the key letter F,
we merely have to look along the alphabet which F controls to discover that the letter p lies directly beneath the e ;
p then is the cipher letter...
Cryptography made its first impact in England during the reign of Henry VIII and became an effective arm of
statecraft under Queen Elizabeth. The man chiefly responsible for this was Sir Francis Walsingham, who organised
a secret service, which at one time employed 53 agents on the Continent. One of his most accomplished assistants
was Anthony Bacon--the brother of Francis--but the best of his cryptanalysts was Thomas Phelippes, a
widely-travelled educated man, who was capable of solving ciphers in five languages.
Walsingham opened a secret cipher school in London and all of his agents had to take a course in cryptography
before they were entrusted with service abroad. Of course, Walsingham's Secret Service was not solely concerned
with foreign affairs, but was designed to protect the Queen from treasonable activities on her own doorstep as well.
Naturally enough, its devious and subtle machinations aroused deep mistrust among honest Englishmen, who
loved freedom of speech and hated "the corridors of darkness." Elizabeth's England was almost a totalitarian state...
...history shows that cryptography was one of Elizabeth's most valuable political assets. It was the decipherment of
a secret message to Anthony Babington, that sent Mary, Queen of Scots, to the block. Having obtained this
evidence, Walsingham sent his agent Gifford back to Fotheringay Castle to intercept and copy more of Mary's
secret messages, with the result that all of the conspirators to depose Elizabeth, including Mary herself, were finally
arrested. Walsingham later claimed that his agents had found the keys to about 50 different ciphers in Mary's
Secret writing became a preoccupation of the English. A doctor called Timothy Bright wrote the first book on
shorthand which was published in 1588 under the title, The Arte of Shorte, Swifte and Secret Writing ...
The reasons for writing in cipher were many and varied. The Duke of Monmouth used cipher in order to de-throne
King James II; Samuel Pepys wrote his Diary in cipher for an entirely different motive.
As a general rule, the use of cipher in the arts was related to the author's position in society. Innumerable sixteenth
and seventeenth century books were either written anonymously, or signed with initials or a bogus name; some of
them were secretly acknowledged...
And yet on this subject, Shakespearean commentators and professors seem to have little knowledge, and are
strangely reluctant to accept the possibility that there is a cipher in the plays of Shakespeare.
...there is a history published anonymously in 1616 which can be shown to contain a simple and by definition a
technically perfect cipher... Rerum Anglicorum Henrico VIII, Eduardo VI et Maria Regnantibus Annales . Both the
first and second editions of this work carry no author's name, a not unusual thing in those days where the writing
of histories was concerned. The risk of offending powerful factions with dire consequences to the author was far
The author of this particular work, however, did decide to risk enciphering his name and identity in the two
editions which appeared during his lifetime.
After his death, a relative decided to publish an English translation, naming Bishop Francis Godwin as the original
His cipher was the delightfully simple one mentioned earlier and certainly effective enough to escape detection
during his lifetime, with as far as is known, just one exception--the original owner of a second edition, 1628. This
person detected it and inscribed his decipherment on the fly leaf of the book, along with a description of the exact
method used to encipher the message which runs as follows:
I Franciscus Godwinus Landavensis Episcopus Hoc Conscripsit
The letters appear in the above order as the initial capital letters of each chapter... In view of this piece of authentic
evidence that cipher did in fact exist in these early printed books, no one can say that it is unreasonable to think
that, if one book printed in 1616 contained cipher, it would be perfectly feasible for another published seven years
later, also to contain cipher. This point is made to demonstrate to the sceptics that cipher in these 17th century
books is a proven fact, and the probability of other contemporary books, particularly where histories are concerned,
containing coded messages, is very real and certainly worthy of serious scientific study...
Another aspect which must be realized is that normal cipher communication between two persons, each of whom
naturally possess the key, has the inherent principle of avoidance of discovery, whereas the individual who finds it
necessary to encipher a message in a printed book shows that he hopes that at some future date someone will
discover his intentions. Of course, the fact that he has gone to the trouble of enciphering a message means that he
does not desire the discovery to take place too soon--logically one presumes, not in his lifetime. For that very
reason he would naturally not make use of any known cipher principle, hence the almost certain use of a
completely new method--in other words, he has to invent one of his own and to attain his object, he has to negotiate
three important and very tricky hurdles, apart from the encipherment of his message:
(a) he must hint somehow at the presence of his cipher--if possible obscurely, but not too obscurely, otherwise the
whole object of the exercise would be in vain.
(b) he has to show its whereabouts.
(c) he must indicate as unambiguously as possible, and this is the really difficult part, the correct key to unlock his
For these reasons, it is obvious that all normal principles of decipherment are turned upside down and are, for the
most part, entirely useless. So any would-be decipherer has from necessity to start from scratch and make liberal
use of trial and error, guesswork and intuition. Once he has discovered the key or rule, he must rigidly, without
variation, stick to the rule, because it is a known fact that critics of cipher invariably search for the tiniest flaw, and
if they find one, they are nearly always wont to condemn the whole [@].
Most of the young nobility of those days traveled in Europe, and it is known that the Earl of Oxford did so. Ben
Jonson got as far as the Low Countries, "trailing a pike" as a soldier, and later went on foot to Scotland. Bacon's
sojourn in France, and at the Court of Navarre as a young man, is well known. His English biographers from his
chaplain William Rawley to James Spedding make no mention of this. But Bacon's first biography was not
published in English in 1657, but 26 years earlier in French. In the "Discours de las Vie" which was prefixed to the
Histoire Naturelle in 1631, Bacon's early travels in Spain and Italy are confirmed. And in the body of the same book
we learn, what seems to have passed unnoticed by all English biographers, that Bacon visited Scotland on one
occasion at least [@].
Restoration work carried out on the ruins of Sir Nicholas Bacon's house at Gorhambury [a mile or two from St.
Albans] under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Works and Monuments, has now  reached an
advanced stage.Defoliation of the brick, stone, iron and the little timber remaining, and exploration at ground level,
has proved to be a lengthy process, but the patient care of the restorers has not gone unrewarded.
Perhaps the most interesting revelations to date have been the coat-of-arms with a Garter surround and the motto
Dieu et mon droit above, and the inscription below the window space, all on the north-east corner tower of the
existing structure. The inscription is in Latin and the translation reads:
WHEN NICHOLAS BACON BROUGHT THESE BUILDING TO COMPLETION TWO LUSTRAS OF ELIZABETH'S
REIGN HAD PASSED: HE HAD BEEN KNIGHTED AND MADE KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEAL. MAY ALL
GLORY BE ASCRIBED TO GOD ALONE.
For this information and other valuable assistance we are indebted to Mrs. King, the late Lord Verulam's private
secretary, who asks us to note that a "lustrum" was the term for a period of five years.
[I visited Old Gorhambury in 1965. Amid the ruins I could still read this, of the Latin inscription:
HAEC CUM PERFECIT NICOLAUS TECTA BACONUS ELIZABETH REGNI LUSTRA FUERIT DUO FACTUS
EQUES MAGNI CUSTOS FUIT IPSA SIGILLI GLORIA SIT SOLI TOTA TRIBUTAT DEO.
My own Latin dictionary (An Elementary Latin Dictionary , Charlton T. Lewis, Harper, 1898, 952 pages) gives "five
years" as a second choice; first choice for lustrum defines it differently, as: a slough, a den of beasts, a wilderness, a
house of ill-repute, debauchery. None of these terms may apply to Elizabeth's first ten year's reign; but who can be
sure of any such 16th century ambiguity--even though carved in stone by a future Lord Keeper, the father of
Francis, Sir Nicholas Bacon, who had a lusty sense of humor.]
Unfortunately, frosts have broken down much of the stonework, necessitating urgent repairs to the walls still
standing and it is sad to recall that only ground-level brickwork remains to remind us of the Long Gallery wing,
upon which the gilded figure of Henry VIII stood not so long ago. Pieces of the torso lay nearby until recently.
Some years ago, too, an underground passage was revealed on the opposite side of the modern road to the
north-east of the ruins, but it has not been determined, it seems, whether its direction was towards the main house,
now vanished, or the nearby Temple Cottage. Temple Cottage was once thought to have been one of Bacon's
summerhouses, but the structure indicates the late 18th century, and the Doric columns are not Tudor. Four
classical figures adorning its roof may date from the Tudor house, but this is conjecture.
Opposite the gates to Gorhambury Park, on the Hemel Hempstead road, stands St. Michaels Church. This is one of
three parish churches in St. Albans, built by the Saxon Abbot Ulsinus, A.D. 948, the others being St. Peter's and St.
Stephen's. St. Michaels is well known for the Monument to Francis Bacon, although there appears to be no evidence
that he was buried in the vault beneath.
In front of the chancel, and near the Monument, is the gravestone of his secretary, Sir Thomas Meautys, who
erected the statue to his master's memory. The lettering on Sir Thomas' tombstone has long been obliterated, when,
how, or by whom is not known; but the inscription was re-cut in 1955 on the instructions of the late Lord Verulam,
from information received from the Keeper of the Printed Books at the Bodleian Library. Apparently, in 1657, eight
years after Meautys' death, Elias Ashmole (the famous antiquarian and Rosicrucian, after whom the Ashmolean
Museum in Oxford is named) visited St. Michael' Church. In his notebook, still preserved in the Bodleian Library
(MS. Ashmole 784, Folio 8v) he had--fortunately for posterity--recorded the inscription on this tombstone, which
was later to be mysteriously chiseled out.
HERE LYETH THE BODY OF S:R.
THOMAS MEAVTYS K.T & ONE
OF THE CLARKES OF HIS LATE
MA:TS MOST HON.LL PRIVIE
COVNCELL. AN. DNI. 1649
The present [now deceased] Earl of Verulam is a descendant of Sir Harbottle Grimston, who purchased
Gorhambury in 1652 [Francis Bacon had no descendants]. Sir Harbottle was Speaker of the Commons under King
Charles II, who granted the St. Albans Charter. The monument to Bacon, with its curious inscription beginning with
the words isic sedebat ["thus he sat," instead of the customary hic jacet , "here lies"] and the Meautys grave, are not
the only points of interest in the Church...
Gorhambury derives its name from Abbot Geoffrey de Gorham, elected in 1119, and a successor of the first
Norman abbot, Paul de Caen, who acceded soon after the Saxon monastery was demolished. The monastery
foundations can still be seen by St. Albans Abbey. Circa 1130 the first mansion was built by a relative of Geoffrey
de Gorham in the Park, on the eastern slope of the hill, leading to the present seat of Lord Verulam, head of the
Grimston family. In 1155 Nicholas Breakspear, an alumnus of St. Albans School, was enthroned as Pope Adrian IV,
the only Englishman to hold this office. Adrian IV, who died in 1159, was said to be too pious for the cardinals and
was the son of an Abbey tenant.
In 1561, when Sir Nicholas Bacon acquired Gorhambury, he pulled down Geoffrey de Gorham's house and built the
Tudor mansion mentioned earlier in these pnotes. Later Sir Francis built a new mansion named Verulam House
[called by him "Verulamium"] a half a mile away but of this, alas, only foundation-traces remain, whereas parts of
the ruins of Sir Nicholas' house still stand. The present Gorhambury, designed by Sir Robert Taylor, was finished in
1784, and still contains many pictures and books belonging originally to Francis Bacon...
Francis Bacon's interest in St. Albans associations was intense and his very title, Viscount St. Alban, commemorated
the Roman martyred on the spot where the Abbey now stands. As has been mentioned before, on assuming this
title he observed: "Now it may be truly said that I wear the habit of St. Alban" [@].
We are sometimes asked why Bacon wrote under noms de plume , as though the very question revealed the
absurdity of such an idea. Yet once again the practice is by no means unique, either in his times, before, or since.
Examples are numerous, and the following are generally accepted.
Robert Burton wrote as Democritus Junior, Sir Walter Scott anonymously, Rev. C. L. Dodgson as Lewis Carroll,
Jean Francois Marie Arouet as Voltaire, Samuel Langhorne Clemens as Mark Twain. Again, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin
wrote under the pseudonym of Moliere, Richard Harris Barham as Thomas Ingoldsby, Amandine Lucile Dudevant
as George Sand. The three Bronte sisters, James Bridie and George Eliot used noms de plume . Books even have
been written on the subject, such as The Bibliographical History of Anonyms and Pseudonyms , by A. Taylor and F.
J. Mosher (1951). Voltaire is reported to have used 137 and Benjamin Franklin 57 pseudonyms [@].
In Archbishop Tenison's Baconiana or Certain Genuine Remains of Sr. Francis Bacon (1679), on p. 79, we read: "And
those who have true skill in the Works of the Lord Verulam, like great Masters in Painting, can tell by the Design,
the Strength, the way of Colouring, whether he was the Author of this or the other Piece, though his Name be not
to it." This is clear evidence that Bacon wrote anonymously or under a pseudonym...
In Memoriae Honoratissimi Domini Francisci, Baronis de Verulamio, Vice-Comitis Sancti Albani Sacrum (London,
1626) thirty-two of Bacon's friends and admirers honoured him with panegyrics after his death. Frequent reference
is made to him as a muse, as well as a philosopher. Some relevant quotations (translated into English) are given
below. They are taken from Manes Verulamiani , edited by W. G. C. Gundry (1950).
"...a muse more rare than the nine Muses. ...nor did he with workmanship of fussy meddlers patch, but he
renovated her walking lowly in the shoes of Comedy. After that more elaborately he rises on the loftier tragic
buskin ... the golden stream of eloquence, the precious gem of concealed literature... How has it happened to us,
the disciples of the Muses, that Apollo, the leader of our Choir, should die? ... Why should I mention each separate
work, a number of which of high repute remain? A portion lies buried. ...ah! the tenth Muse and the glory of the
Choir has perished. Ah! never before has Apollo himself been truly unhappy! Whence will there be another to love
him so? Ah! he is no longer going to have the full memory; and unavoidable is it now for Apollo to be content with
nine Muses. ...he enriched the ages with countless books. ... You have filled the world with your writings...
Phoebus withheld his healing hand from his rival, because he feared his becoming King of the Muses. ... They begot
the infant Muses, he adult... But my song can bring you no praises, a singer yourself you chant your own praises
In his Apologie in Certaine Imputations concerning the Late Earle of Essex , Bacon wrote:
"About the same time I remember an answer of mine in a matter which had some affinity with my Lord's cause,
which though it grew from me, went after about in other's names. For her Majesty being mightily incensed with
that book which was dedicated to my Lord of Essex, being a story of the first year of King Henry the fourth,
thinking it a seditious prelude to put into the people's heads boldness and faction, said she had good opinion that
there was treason in it, and asked me if I could not find any places in it that might be drawn within case of treason:
whereto I answered: for treason surely I found none, but for felony [plagiarism] very many." (Spedding, The
Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon ).
There is also the enigmatic phrase in Bacon's Prayer or Psalm: "I have (though in a despised weed) procured the
good of all men." The "despised weed" cannot refer to Bacon's scientific writings or to his legal work: it could refer
to his possible role as a playwright [@].
The Shakespeare Monument in Stratford Church: Most Baconians are agreed that this famous monument, which
was erected sometime between 1616 and 1623, was subject to some radical alterations when it was repaired in
1748/9...Certainly the face, if not the entire bust, was changed and the two little figures above are very different
from those engraved in Sir William Dugdale's Warwickshire of 1656. [Recent research has shown that this book had
been typeset and engraved twenty years earlier; the long delay in printing was caused by civil unrest under Charles
I and then by Cromwell's rebellion.] The present figures are carved from an entirely different stone from the rest of
the monument and, as a matter of fact, they and the present bust can be lifted down when it is necessary to give
them a face lift...
It was Francis Bacon who, as a judge, was known for his wisdom and eloquence, as was Nestor, King of Pylos.
Bacon, like Socrates, was a genius and a great philosopher and like Virgilius Maro, or Virgil as most of us know
him, was a poet lamented by all who knew his real worth, as seen in the Latin tributes printed after his death and
known as the Manes Verulamiani . It was one of these poems which stated that Bacon would reside in Olympus, as
given on this Monument. In a subsequent work on poetry Bacon was named as "The Chancellor of Parnassus."
[In 1617, James I appointed Francis Bacon as Chancellor and Keeper of the King's Seals. Part of his duty was to act
as a judge of the Court of Chancery, the King's court which was designed to relieve suitors from the rigors and
injustices arising from ancient English common law. Hepworth Dixon, an English barrister, published in 1862 The
Story of Lord Bacon's Life , in which he showed that Bacon's "fall" was part of a political plot and motivated by the
jealousy of a rival lawyer, Sir Edward Coke. Lawyers, and perhaps their clients, will appreciate the following digest
The system which Bacon inherited was rotten to the core. No one realized this better than Bacon himself, and he
was bent on reforming it. First, as to "the Law's delays." In his very first speech in court, he used these words:
"Concerning speedy justice, I am resolved that my decree shall come speedily upon the hearing. It hath been a
matter much used of late, that upon the full hearing of a cause nothing is pronounced in court; but breviates are
required to be made; which I do not dislike in causes perplexed, for I am of opinion that whosoever is not wiser on
advice than on the sudden, is no wiser at fifty than at thirty; and it was my father's ordinary word [Sir Nicholas
Bacon, former Chancellor], 'You must give me time.'
"Yet I find that where such breviates were taken the cause was sometimes forgotten a term or two, and then set
down for a new hearing, or a rehearsing three or four terms after. I will pronounce my decree within a few days
after my hearing, and sign my decree at least in the vacation. Fresh justice is the sweetest. Justice ought not to be
delayed. There ought to be no labouring in causes but that of the counsel at the bar."
And then he added, significantly:
"Because justice is a sacred thing, and the end for which I am called to this place, and therefore is my way to
heaven (and if it be shorter it is none the worse), I shall, by the grace of God, as far as God will give me strength,
add the afternoon to the forenoon, and some fortnight of the vacation to the terms, for clearing the causes of the
court. Only the depth of the three long vacations I would reserve for studies of arts and sciences to which in my
nature, I am most inclined."
The fact that no less than three thousand six hundred Chancery causes awaited his attention--some of them of 10 or
20 years standing--will give some idea of the immensity of his labours...
By good humour, by patience and courtesy, by assiduity which knew neither haste nor rest, he cleared off all
accumulations of arrears. In Easter and Trinity terms he settled no less than 3,658 suits; on the eighth of June he
could proudly say; "I have made even with justice; not one cause unheard. Men think I cannot continue. The duties
of life are more than life; and if I die now I shall die before the world will be weary of me--which, in our time, is
Truly, of all the hornets Bacon had stirred up when he accepted the Seals, none was more to be dreaded than the
humiliated and vindictive Coke, whose one aim in life, now, was to drag his rival down...
With the opening of his second year, Bacon's labours showed no sign of decreasing: on the contrary they increased.
The harder he worked and the more personal attention he gave to the proceedings, the more he lessened the
unpopularity of the Court of Chancery and the more the suits increased in number. Efficiency and industry, in fact,
involve their penalties--a melancholy reflection! "The orders and decrees of his second year amounted to no less
than 9,181," and Bacon's health began to suffer...
... The entries and reports remain in the Chancery archives; the lists show how great were the labours through
which he cheerily tagged... By promptitude, vivacity and courtesy, more than 35,000 suitors in his court were freed
in one year from the uncertainties of law... [@].
[To return to the question of the meaning of "lustrum" as engraved by Sir Nicholas Bacon on the stone walls of his
house at Gorhambury, there are more than rumors about the misbehavior of Queen Elizabeth I after her accession
in 1558. A Bishop de Quadra, a sort of Italian spy to the English Court, wrote to his King on Aug. 4, 1560 (as copied
from the Simancas Archives at the Public Records Office in London by an Editor of Baconiana)]:
Bishop de Quadra to the King [of Spain]:
...[The Queen's] affairs, however, are in such a condicion that if she do not marry and behave herself better than
hitherto, she will everyday find herself in new and greater troubles.
Bishop de Quadra to Duchess of Parma, 11 Sept. 1560 :
...[The Queen] promised me an answer about the marriage [with the Archduke] by the third instant, and said she
was certain to marry, but now she coolly tells me she cannot make up her mind and will not marry. After this I had
an opportunity of talking to Cecil, who I understand was in disgrace, and Robert [Dudley, Earl of Leicester] was
trying to turn him out of his place. After exacting many pledges of strict secrecy, he said the Queen was conducting
herself in such a way that he thought of retiring. He said it was a bad sailor who did not enter port when he saw a
storm coming on and he clearly foresaw the ruin of the realm through Robert's intimacy with the Queen, who
surrendered all affairs to him and meant to marry him. He said he did not know how the country put up with it,
and he should ask leave to go home, although he thought they would cast him into the Tower first. He ended by
begging me in God's name to point out to the Queen the effect of her misconduct and persuade her not to abandon
business entirely but to look to her realm--and then he repeated twice over to me that Lord Robert would be better
in Paradise than here... He ended by saying that Robert was thinking of killing his wife who was publicly
announced to be ill, although she was quite well, and would take very good care they did not poison her. He said
surely God would never allow such a wicked thing to be done... I am sure he speaks the truth and is not acting
The next day the Queen told me as she returned from hunting that Robert's wife was dead or nearly so, and asked
me not to say anything about it. Certainly this business is most shameful and scandalous, and withal I am not sure
she will marry the man at once or even if she will marry at all, as I do not think she has a mind sufficiently fixed.
Cecil says she wishes to do as her father did... Since writing the above I hear that the Queen has published the
death of Lord Robert's wife [Amy Robsart] and said in Italian, "She broke her neck, she must have fallen down a
Bishop Quadra to the King, Jan. 1561 :
... Things have reached such a pitch that her chamberlain has left her, and Axele (Yaxley) of the Privy Chamber is in
prison for having babbled, indeed there is not a man who has not some tale to tell...
Bishop Quadra to the King, Sept. 1561 :
...the Earl of Arundel [is] drawing up copies of the testimony given in the inquiry respecting the death of Lord
Robert's wife. Robert is now doing his best to repair matters as it appears that more is being discovered in that
affair than he wished...
What is of most importance now, as I am informed, is that the Queen is becoming dropsical and has begun to swell
extraordinarily. I have been advised of this from three different sources and by a person who has the opportunity
of being an eye witness. To all appearances she is falling away and is extremely thin and the colour of a corpse...
[A mutant and erratic genius of Elizabethan times was John Dee (1527-1608). He has a bad name in the annals of
science because he was an astrologer. However, astrology was the ancestor of astronomy and was considered a
science until the observations and discoveries of Copernicus were proven and became generally accepted in
Europe; public comprehension of his theory did not begin until early in the 17th century. Dee was also considered a
magician and an alchemist and he probably misused his "powers" for private gain. He was acquitted in Star
Chamber in 1555 of practicing sorcery against Queen Mary.
But Dee was a scientist worthy of the name to his contemporaries and he published treatises on mathematics, logic
and navigation. His works include Monas Hieroglyphica (1564) and General and Rare Memorials Pertaining to the
Perfecte Arte of Navigation (1577). Queen Elizabeth hired him to make hydrographic and geographic charts and
descriptions of newly discovered regions.
He is believed once to have had possession of the celebrated Voynich manuscript, an ancient document written in a
cipher which has never been solved].
David Kahn, writing in The Codebreakers says:
"But how did a manuscript attributed to Roger Bacon (1214-1294) get to Rudolf's court at Prague? [The latter was
the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II who had founded observatories for Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler.]
Between 1584 and 1588, one of the Emperor's most welcome visitors was Dr. John Dee, an English divine,
mathematician and astrologer who is sometimes said to have been the model for Prospero in The Tempest . Dee
shared Rudolf's interest in the occult and was an enthusiast for Roger Bacon, manuscripts of many of whose works
he had collected. He knew the young Francis Bacon and may have even introduced him to the works of Roger
Bacon, which may help explain the similarities in their thought. Dee may have been aware of Roger Bacon's own
brief discussion of cryptography in the Epistle on the Secret Works of Art and the Nullity of Magic . He certainly
had some knowledge of, and considerable interest in, cryptology, for in 1562 he bought for Sir William Cecil, Queen
Elizabeth's great minister, a manuscript of Trithemius' 'Steganographia,' which had not yet been published and 'for
which a Thowsand Crownes have ben by others offred, and yet could not be obteyned' " [@].
Noel Fermor, commenting on the foregoing quotation in Baconiana, wrote:
The accuracy of the passage quoted above is confirmed at least in part because we know that Francis Bacon visited
Dee's famous and vast library at Mortlake in 1582 at the age of 21 and began work on the Instauratio the following
year. [Citing Dee's Diary, 11.8., 1582]. It seems plain from Francis Bacon's own statement that he started to plan the
Instauratio soon after his meeting with Dee, and that Roger Bacon's oeuvre and occult philosophy were discussed
at length by the two men...
Although Dee was primarily a man of learning, it is also true that he moved in European Court circles freely, and
this may in some measure have reflected his relationship with Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's principal
Secretary and head of espionage. Dee's letter from Leipsig of the 14th May 1586 to Walsingham indicates this since
he complains therein of "Imperial and Royal--Honourable Espies" amongst others. Blackmail and insidious threats
were as common then as now. Dee adds, "but the God of Heaven and Earth is our Light, Leader and Defender" and
finally addresses Walsingham as his Patron--surely a significant appellation.
Certainly Dee had considerable influence at the Court of Elizabeth I, although his genius for mathematics, allied to
his omniverous scholarship, would in themselves have won him favour with the numerous aristocratic men of
learning who played such a prominent part in furthering the Renaissance... Ewen MacDuff, who has made a
considerable study of this aspect of Dee's character, suggests that William Camden's reference to the fact that Dee
was the first man to lecture on Euclid enhanced his reputation... Three of the best known [of Walsingham's
European spies] were Gifford, Phillips (or Phillipes) and Anthony Bacon... We may note then that Dee met Cardano
[Girolamo Cardano (1501-1576), an Italian mathematician, physician, astrologer and cryptographer] in 1550. Some
years later Walsingham heard of Cardano's [grille cipher] system and, later, recruited Anthony Bacon as a
cryptographer and spy. Ewen MacDuff has evidence that Francis Bacon knew Phillips well and accompanied him
when meeting Dee in 1582...As hinted earlier, we prefer not to stress his character flaws but to ask readers to
remember that genius is a many faceted jewel. After all, in John Dee we have a man who had a profound influence
on Renaissance thought and on the deep laid schemes of Francis Bacon for the betterment of mankind. Dee himself
wrote, "Farewell, diligent reader; in reading these things, invocate the spirit of Eternal Light, speak little, meditate
much and judge aright.
A measure of the respect in which John Dee was held in earlier life is that the Duke of Northumberland, father of
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, employed Dee as tutor to his children so that they should have a sound scientific
upbringing. Northumberland became a notable scientist with a strong leaning to mathematics and magnetism, and
Anthony Wood, in his Athenae Oxoniensis , was able to write that no one knew Robert Dudley better than Dee [@].
With the exception of "King John," the historical plays of Shakespeare extend consecutively from the reign of
Richard II to that of Henry VIII with one gap and one gap only, namely: the play of Henry VII is omitted.
Shakespeare's play of Richard III ends with the crowning of Henry VII by Lord Stanley, who plucks the crown from
Richard's dead temples.
Francis Bacon wrote one historical work in prose: The Historie of the raigne of King Henry the Seventh , published
in 1622. This history begins with the crowning of Henry VII on the battlefield by Lord Stanley, who finds the crown
among the spoils, and this History ends at the point where Shakespeare takes it up again in the play of Henry VIII.
Is it a coincidence that Bacon wrote a History of Henry VII in prose, beginning at the exact point where Shakespeare
left off in Richard III and leaving off at the exact point where Shakespeare begins again in Henry VIII?
Henry VIII was printed for the first time in the First Folio of 1623. This play shows that the author was indebted for
some of his materials to Cavendish's Life of Wolsey , which, although written in 1557, was not published until
1641--eighteen years after the appearance of the play and twenty-five years after the death of Will Shaksper. It is
impossible that the actor could have had access to this manuscript, but it would have been available to Bacon as
one of Wolsey's successors in office.It is quite certain that in 1622-23 Bacon was engaged upon a work pertaining to
the reign of Henry VIII, for in January, 1623 he had applied to the proper authorities for the loan of such documents
as might be in the public archives relating to that monarch's reign. On 21st February, 1623 Bacon wrote to
Buckingham, who had gone to Spain with Prince Charles, asking to be remembered to the Prince "Who, I hope ere
long, will make me leave King Henry VIII and set me on work in relation to His Majesty's heroical adventures."
On 26th June, 1623 Bacon wrote to his friend Sir Tobie Matthew: "Since you say the Prince hath not forgot his
commandment touching my history of Henry VIII." Where is this History of Henry VIII? It never appeared, but six
months afterwards the play of "Henry VIII" is published in the First Folio of the Shakespeare Plays.
In this play of "Henry VIII" there is a scene where four peers are sent to relieve Cardinal Wolsey of the Great Seal. Is
it a coincidence that the playwright should have selected as two of these peers the names of two of the peers who
were actually sent to take the great seal from Francis Bacon on the occasion of his fall from power? Why should any
man other than Francis Bacon himself mention the names of two peers who did not attend on Cardinal Wolsey but
who did attend upon himself?
The plays and poems of Shakespeare are saturated with legal principles, technically expressed. They clearly show
that the author was as familiar with the intricatepractice of the courts as he was with the theory of the law. He was a
trained lawyer, and the technical knowledge of the law shown in the plays must have been acquired by someone
who had actually practised in the courts; no amateur could have acquired by conversation with legal acquaintances
the familiarity with the law shown by the author of the plays. Dr. Appleton Morgan, the president of the New York
Shakespeare Society, said: "He was a ripe, learned and profound lawyer, so saturated with precedents that at once
in his highest and sweetest flights he colours everything with legal dyes." Heard in his Shakespeare as a Lawyer , he
says: "He must have obtained his knowledge of the law from actual practice." There is no evidence that Will
Shaksper had any acquaintance with the law.
It is clear that the author of "Hamlet" must have possessed an intimate knowledge of the law of suicides, as found in
the old case of Hales v. Petit in Plowden's Reports, which are written in Norman Latin law-jargon and black-letter
type, and which would be utterly unintelligible to a lay-man.
Is it a coincidence that Francis Bacon, who was Lord Chancellor, was the greatest jurist of his age and as profound a
lawyer as was Shakespeare?
Sir Tobie Matthew, writing to his friend Francis Bacon in 1618, states: "The most prodigious wit that ever I knew of
my nation, and of this side of the sea, is of your Lordship's name, though he be known by another."
This can only mean that Bacon had been writing works in the name of someone else, so the question arises, where
are these works written by Bacon and published in the name of some other man? ...
Many of the Shakespeare plays were revised and re-revised by the author before they were printed, and also
between successive editions.
From the publication of "The Taming of the Shrew" in 1594 up to the date of the First Folio in 1623, 4,936 new lines
were added to the plays, the majority of these new lines being added after the death of Will Shaksper in 1616.
Is it a coincidence that Francis Bacon re-wrote and revised all of his prose writings a great number of times, and that
in the case of both Bacon and Shakespeare the work of revision culminated in or about 1623--seven years after Will
Shaksper's death? ...
When the play of "Richard II" appeared in 1598 Queen Elizabeth was furious, because she thought it was part of a
plot to teach her subjects how to murder kings.
"I am Richard," she said, "Know you not that?"
She was even more angry when immediately afterwards John Hayward, a young doctor of civil law, published a
pamphlet which, taking as its basis the story of the play, drew from it morals that the Queen considered to be
seditious. The fat was in the fire, and the Queen sent for Francis Bacon and instructed him to draw up articles
against the author. Francis Bacon reported to the Queen that in his opinion there was no treason in the play, but that
the author was a thief because he had lifted most of the sentences of Cornelius Tacitus, translated them into English,
and put them into the text of the play. Bacon reports this incident in his Apologia concerning Essex. [This was the
second time that he had to explain a play to the Queen.]
How is it that Bacon knew the sources from which some of the chief passages in "Richard II" were derived, whereas
modern commentators on Shakespeare have never been able to tell us what these passages are?
Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis was published in 1593 and dedicated to the Earl of Southampton.
Will Shaksper in 1593 would be twenty-nine years old, and had only recently arrived in London.
The dedication to the poem shows that Southampton's consent to the dedication had not been obtained, which
would be a very risky proceeding on the part of an unknown actor.
The following year Shakespeare dedicated his Rape of Lucrece to Southampton, this time in terms of high friendship.
There is no evidence that Will Shaksper was ever acquainted with Southampton.
Is it a coincidence that Shakespeare dedicates these two poems to Southampton, who was one of Francis Bacon's
most intimate friends, both being members of Gray's Inn?
In the plays "Merry Wives of Windsor," "Henry VI," Parts 2 and 3, "King John,""Richard III," and "Othello" in the
First Folio, 4,479 new lines were added after these plays were published in the Quarto Editions. These Quarto
editions were published from three to six years after Will Shaksper's death, and the First Folio was published seven
years after his death.
Is it a coincidence that the man who inserted these 4,479 additional lines seven years after Will Shaksper's death was
able to copy the original author's style to such an extent that it is impossible to distinguish these additions from the
original matter? ...
In the second edition of "Hamlet," 1604, we find the tides of the ocean attributed, in accordance with popular
opinion, to the influence of the moon.
Francis Bacon at first held the common opinion, but in 1616 he investigated the matter and in a treatise entitled De
fluxu et Refluxu Maris definitely rejected the lunar theory.
Is it a coincidence that in every edition of "Hamlet" published prior to 1616 the lunar theory is stated and approved,
and that in every edition of this play published after 1616 it is omitted?
Will Shaksper had died in 1616, so he could not have arranged for the omission of this theory in the editions of the
play published after 1616.
Why should the man responsible for these later editions change his opinion at the same time that Francis Bacon did?
In the dedication to the Earl of Southampton of the poem Venus and Adonis , published in 1593, Shakespeare calls
this poem "the first heir of my invention." Invention in those days meant "imagination," and was applied to poetry
and the drama. If what Shakespeare says is true, and this poem was his first poetic composition, it must have
antedated every Shakespearean play, and it follows that, as Shakespeare plays had been on the boards in London
before Will Shaksper arrived in London, Shaksper, if he had been the author, must have written Venus and Adonis
when he was still in Stratford. This is obviously an impossibility, for it contains the purest, most elegant and
scholarly English, with not a trace of patois in it. The education (if any) that Shaksper had managed to obtain at
Stratford would, under no circumstances, have been sufficient to enable him to compose this poem, which bears
every mark of collegiate elegance and culture [@].
[Here are few choice sentences of Francis Bacon touching science:]
The human discoveries we now enjoy should rank as quite imperfect and underdeveloped. In the present state of
the Sciences, new discoveries can be expected only after the lapse of centuries.
Man is the helper and interpreter of Nature. He can only act and understand in so far as by working upon her or
observing her he has come to perceive her order. Beyond this he has neither knowledge nor power. For there is no
strength that can break the causal chain: Nature cannot be conquered but by obeying her. Accordingly those twin
goals, human science and human power, come in the end to one. To be ignorant of causes is to be frustrated in
Crafty men condemn studies, simple men admire them; and wise men use them.
God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures. It is the greatest refreshment
to the spirits of man; without which buildings and palaces are but gross handyworks.
Since I have lost much time with this age, I would be glad if God shall give me leave to recover it with posterity. I
have raised up a light in the obscurity of Philosophy which will be seen centuries after I am dead [@].
Bacon's paradoxical manner of turning a sentence so as to read two ways has been the frequent subject of comment.
A large number of puns and quibbles are to be found even in his graver works, and Ben Jonson's remark [that Bacon
could not pass by a jest] shows that, however much he might try to exclude these plays upon words from his
writings, the habit of punning was so confirmed in him as to be, in Jonson's opinion, a disfigurement to his oratory...
"The varieties and sprightliness of Bacon's imagination, an imagination piercing almost into futurity, conjectures
improving even to prophesy... The greatest felicity of expression and the most splendid imagery." ... (Basil
Montagu.) ... "To the Advancement of Learning he brings every species of poetry by which imagination can elevate
the mind from the dungeon of the body to the enjoying of its own essence... Metaphors, similitudes and analogies
make up a great part of his reasoning... Ingenuity, poetic fancy, and the highest imagination and fertility cannot be
denied him." (Craik) ... "The creative fancy of a Dante or Milton never called up more gorgeous images than those
suggested by Bacon, and we question much whether their worlds surpass his in affording scope for the imagination.
His extended over all time. His mind brooded over all nature, unfolding to the gaze of the spectator the order of the
universe as exhibited to angelic intelligences." (Devey.) "The tendency of Bacon to see analogies is characteristic of
him, the result of that mind not truly philosophic but truly poetic, which will find similitudes everywhere in heaven
and earth." (Dr. Abbott.)
"He was no dashing man, as some men are, but ever a countenancer and fosterer of another man's parts. Neither
was he one that would appropriate the speech wholly to himself, or delight to outvie others. He contemned no
man's observations, but would light his torch at every man's candle. His opinions were for the most part binding,
and not contradicted by any, which may well be imputed either to the well-weighing of his sentences by the scales
of truth and reason, or else to the reverence and estimation in which he was held. I have often observed, and so
have other men of great account, that if he had occasion to repeat another man's words after him, he had an use and
faculty to dress them in better vestments and apparel than they had before, so that the author should find his own
speech much amended, and yet the substance of it still retained, as if it had been natural to him to use good forms,
as Ovid spake of his faculty of versifying." (Dr. Rawley.)
Bacon's chief complaint against the "schoolmen," and against the ancient philosophies, was not so much regarding
their matter as their method. The matter had become mere words, and the continual repetition of the same words
made even "truth itself tired of iteration." He rightly complained that the writers of his time only looked out for facts
in support of preconceived theories, or else, where authority and prejudice did not lead the way, constructed their
theories on a hasty and unmethodical examination of a few facts collected at random. In either case they neglected
to test or verify their generalizations, whilst they wasted time and study in drawing out, by logical arguments, long
trains of elaborate conclusions which, for aught they knew, might start from erroneous theories...
Let us sum up briefly the deficiencies in knowledge which, so far, we have learnt from Bacon to observe in the
works of his predecessors, but which were being rapidly supplied during his life and in the succeeding generation:
Natural Science, or Physics and Chemistry, with experiments and demonstrations--deficient.
Natural History, excepting a few books of subtleties, varieties, catalogues, etc.--deficient.
Horticulture and husbandry, totally or partially deficient.
Meteorology in all its branches, deficient.
Astronomy, weak with good foundations, but by no means sound.
Astrology, not to be despised, but not practiced so as to be useful or sane.
Medicine, Pathology and the art of prolonging life--deficient.
Metaphysics, or the Doctrine of the Human Soul, and of the influence of mind on body--deficient.
Physiognomy and Gestures, the study of them--deficient.
As in everything else which Bacon noted as unattempted or unachieved, we find him endeavoring to supply the
deficiencies in language which were universal in his day. He does not hint that Ben Jonson, Shakespeare and others
had been for years pouring Latin words into our language, trying experiments in words which had never been tried
before, coining, testing and rejecting, in the same manner precisely in which Bacon himself was coining, testing,
rejecting, or making current the new words which he entered in his Promus ...
Not one word does Bacon say about the prodigious increase in the richness of language which had taken place
during his own life. As he wrote in the prime of his manhood, so he writes in the complete edition of the
Advancement of Learning , published simultaneously with the Shakespeare plays in 1623. Ending where he began,
and disregarding the mass of splendid literature which filled up all numbers and surpassed the finest efforts of
Greece and Rome, he calmly sets down philosophic grammar and the art of using beautiful language as "wanting."
But Bacon was no ordinary man. He was an intellectual giant, born into a world which seemed to him to be chiefly
peopled with pigmies; the spiritual and intellectual life of the world stunted, deformed, diseased, and sick unto
death through ignorance and the sins which ignorance nourishes and strengthens... [@].
Ben Jonson, without naming Shakespeare, personified him in a poem entitled "On Poet-Ape."
Poor Poet-Ape, that would be thought our chief,
Whose works are e'en the frippery of wit,
From brokage [brokerage] is become so bold a thief,
As we, the robbed, leave rage, and pity it.
At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
Buy the reversion of old plays; now grown
To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,
He takes up all, makes each man's wit his own.
And, told of this, he slights it. Tut, such crimes
The sluggish gaping auditor devours;
He marks not whose 'twas first, and after-times
May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
Fool, as if half eyes will not know a fleece
From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece.